EU opens probe into Google practices

EU regulators opened a formal investigation into Google Inc. Tuesday, putting pressure on the world's top Internet search engine to offer concessions to settle antitrust complaints and avert a lengthy battle like that sustained by Microsoft Corp.

The move by the European Commission came more than nine months after British price comparison site Foundem and French legal search engine ejustice. fr alleged Google's search algorithm demoted their sites in Web search results because they were rivals.

Microsoft-owned Ciao, from Bing, also filed a complaint with the European Commission about Google's standard terms and conditions.

"The [European] Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services," the EU executive said. But competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said it was premature to say there was a problem with Google's business practices.

(Published by National Post - December 1, 2010)

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